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Embassy of Friendship

By Stan Stewart

For me it sounds like one of the best concepts I have ever heard. I want to join up. Now! But

I can’t. It is not that kind of thing. But what is it?

It’s Steffen Linder’s brainchild. Steffen is a counsellor and therapist who has been

living and working in Whitianga for almost 14 years. He works out of a charming small cottage in

5 Coghill Street, Whitianga. I went to enquire from him what the Embassy of Friendship was

all about. This is what I found out.

First of all understand what The Embassy of Friendship is not.

Its not an organization.

It’s not a business.

It’s not a club.

It is not a religion.

It is not a group.

It’s not a franchise.

It is not space for arguing or proselytizing.

Well, what is it? This is what I think it is.

It is an inspired idea – It is Steffen’s contribution and vision to manifest a more soulful community spirit in Whitianga. Based on positive relationships – based on creating space for sharing, learning and “Friendship”.

The Embassy of Friendship most often comes into being in Steffen’s cottage/workshop.

It is present in various events and gatherings. They may include music, storytelling, poetry,

meditation, self-awareness, stress reduction. The purpose of coming together is personal health, personal healing, community wellbeing and social change.

Steffen sometimes facilitates but there have been many other presenters like artist, musicians, writers or people who contribute in general to personal grows and a healthy community.

People attending the events contribute a koha (an offering) and where the presenter has shared their art and/or travelled the total of these kohas (offerings) are given to them. The events are alcohol and smoke free.

I understand that the Embassy of Friendship is a place where people from different walks of life, believes and life experiences share and learn from each other in a spirit of acceptance and community.

The next of the Embassy gathering will be an event for the whole family including children up to 10 years with Emma Evangeline Gustafson, artist and book illustrator. She will share some of her personal story, how she become an artist and will present and story tell for the children one of her illustrated books. This event will happen family friendly in two slots (2pm and 4 pm) on Sunday, 23rd of April.

Over the years alongside of his work as a counsellor and therapist Steffen has organized and been involved in different groups in the Embassy, for instance, a ‘men’s Group’, a “life transition sharing group”, a “self-awareness stress reduction circle” and his newest project is a “Whitianga Land Sharing Initiative” which target interested people who could see themselves living in the near future in a tiny house or alternative living community somewhere around the Whitianga - Mercury Bay area.

In addition to his years of formal study in Psychology, Education, Sociology, Philosophy, and further training in Psychotherapy Steffen’s personal approach to life has been profoundly influenced by a near-death incident. He almost died after he had rescued a young woman from drowning at a beach in Opoutere.

A concept which has come to be important to Steffen is this line from Kierkegaard – “Life

can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward”…moment by moment!

You can reach Steffen at 5 Coghill Street, where his private practice is based. Here he is providing counselling and therapy services for individuals, couples (in form of relationship and marriage counselling) and groups. He is also available for supervision or team couching with regards to workplace issues. Or just contact him via email under or send a text to 022053121. You can find also more information under

Steffen will contribute to some future issues of the Informer.


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